cover image The Woman Who Killed the Fish

The Woman Who Killed the Fish

Clarice Lispector. New Directions, $17.95 (64p) ISBN 978-0-8112-2960-9

Readers will delight in this short collection of luminous, laugh-out-loud stories from the late Brazilian cult writer Lispector (The Chandelier). Each centers on the natural world, though in wildly different ways. In the title story, a meticulous woman apologizes and attempts to exculpate herself in the death of two pet fish by taking readers on a tour of the many animals she has dearly loved and cared for. In the fabulist “Almost True,” the narrator, a dog named Ulisses, relates “a nicely barked story” to his owner, Clarice, about chickens under the thrall of a magical fig tree. “The Mystery of the Thinking Rabbit” features caveats directed at the adults reading these stories aloud. Though the author wrote these stories for her son when he was a child, and they often contain magic and lack in explanations, their small delights nonetheless rank high among Lispector’s impressive body of work. In between the lines of these spellbinding worlds, she offers indelible glimpses of the way people live and dream. Even amid the silliest of scenarios are glimmers of the beauty of the everyday: “That’s how life went on. Gently, gently.” This is one to savor. (Aug.)